Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Diego

San Diego Repertory Theatre

Steven Lone, Rachael Van Wormer and Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's play, boom, is this season's most produced work, and it's not hard to see why. boom is theater personified: a smart, sexy, funny, eloquent and magical trip through ideas big and small. And, with a cast of three and a single set, it's not expensive to produce. San Diego Repertory Theatre is taking its turn with boom through January 31, and the production is a must-see.

To tell you much about the plot would be to spoil it, but here's the basic set-up. Jules (Steven Lone), a marine biology grad student, lures Jo (Rachael Van Wormer) to his basement laboratory at the university with the promise of "sex to change the world." Jo is impatient to do the deed and depart, as she plans to write about the experience for a journalism class. But Jules is improbably reticent, given his Craigslist ad, and he wants to talk first. You see, Jules has a theory that his professors think is crackpot—a comet is about to hit the Earth and wipe out most, if not all, life forms. Jules wants to be prepared to bring back human life once the dust from the comet clears. He's set up his lab as a kind of bomb shelter and has lain in provisions. Oh, and there's one other thing—he's gay.

There's also a third character, Barbara (Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson), who narrates the story, provides percussive sound effects (including one large and several smaller booms), and seems to be directing the action from her perch above the set.

Rep Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse, assisted by ion Theatre's Claudio Raygoza, has mounted a theatrically detailed and riveting production. Mr. Lone and Ms. Van Wormer ping, bounce and boom against each other in a virtually choreographed manner, and they exhibit just the right touches in playing their characters' revelations and the plot's twists and turns. Ms. Thompson has what seems to be a somewhat thankless role of observer and narrator, but she, too, is not everything that she seems at first impression. The play loses a little of its steam by the time Ms. Thompson becomes more involved, and the final twist is not entirely satisfying. Still, it's a wild and crazy ride getting there, and the actors ride along fearlessly.

Production elements, too, are superb, from David Lee Cuthbert's realistic but humorous set, lighting and projection design to Jennifer Brawn Gittings' colorful and character-driven costumes to Tom Jones' highly effective sound design.

In short, boom at the Rep is an explosive success.

Playing now through January 31 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego. Tickets $29-$47 ($18 for students) available by calling (619) 544-1000 or by visiting the San Diego Rep website.

San Diego Repertory Theatre presents boom, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. Directed by Sam Woodhouse with Assistant Director Claudio Raygoza. Scenic Lighting and Projection Design by David Lee Cuthbert, Costume Design by Jennifer Brawn Gittings, Sound Design by Tom Jones.

With Steven Lone (Jules), Rachael Van Wormer (Jo), and Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson (Barbara).

Photo: Erin Bigley

See the current season schedule for the San Diego area.

- Bill Eadie

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